From perfumed gardens to pavement dwellers :(

In Delhi when you visit the Red Fort, built by Shah Jahan in 1639, you find water channels surrounding the buildings. It seems perfumed water would flow in these channels so that the queens and the Emperor could enjoy the fragrance and cool breeze. With Aurangzeb coming to power, the Mughal dynasty’s decline started and then the British empire came around in 1757 when the East India Company took charge. Till 1947 we were a “colony” of the British empire. Suddenly from being one of the richest and developed nations on Earth just 300 years back, we were plundered, destroyed and brought down to the status of a “poor” and “developing” country. This is recent history, and if we were to go back a few thousands of years, there is historical evidence to show India’s riches.

Sadly, today India is home to a large number of poor people …. While we can blame the colonial powers all we want, the fact is we have been an independent nation for 70 years now. The governments that we voted into power every five years seem to have continued the colonial agenda of making us believe that we are inferior and our way of life is to be trashed. That left us as a bunch of people who took no pride in our country’s heritage and what we stood for.

Here are a few pictures from Chennai and Hyderabad that prompted this blog –

A person who lives in the nearby hut sleeping on the pavement under a mosquito net in Chennai.
These are pavement dwellers just outside the Keyes High School in Secunderabad

Remember the constant invasions (not the flawed Aryan invasion) from Persians and Mongols and others – why would anyone invade another country if it was dirt poor? They invaded because India was super rich. Our temples were overflowing with gold and gemstones. Our women wore jewellery and handwoven silk and cotton, and our lands were fertile. Why, we had nearly a 110,000 varieties of rice till 100 years back and today are left with just a few hundreds. Read this recent article – Rice and fall of great desi crop. Our history books today talk of Mughals and the colonial powers …. while the great Emperor Ashoka is mentioned in the passing, and the Chola empire or the Pala empire or the Maratha empire get a passing mention or none at all.  I am not getting into a Congress and Left bashing in this post, but just feeling sad that we, the citizens of this great nation allowed such things to happen.

We are now a nation of contrasts … while these pavement dwellers are struggling to find food, shelter and some work to earn a living, there is a metro line right in front of their pavement dwelling. People are zipping past in expensive cars and bikes with no thought about how they can help these people get better in their lives. Thats the sad part. Can we not even feed the poor ? Can the government not build shelters where they can go and sleep and have a decent living ? Cant they be trained to do some work, maybe just cleaning the Keyes high school even or the roads, so that they earn some money and are able to get food everyday? These are small things and we don’t have to wait for a miracle or for a CSR policy to make a difference…

Till the day an average citizen becomes accountable and takes it upon himself to make a difference, change will not come…. waiting for that day, while doing what we can through ShikshaDaan :(:(.

4 thoughts on “From perfumed gardens to pavement dwellers :(”

  1. Bindu..

    I have a friend of mine, Sreedhar, who is involved in Thanal ( an NGO based in Trivandrum. They do a lot of work in traditional Rice conservation. Just in case you are interested in…

    Roji Jacob

  2. Bindu-ji, you made this interesting comment that we are taught only Mughal & British history, not about say the Cholas. This is very true. But the biases in our educationists run very deep. I say we were not taught enough about Indian dynasties (esp. in south India)that achieved much. I was taught about Guptas and Mauryas , Ghaznis and Ghoris but very little about Cholas, Pallavas, & Vijaynagar Kings. Our children know nothing about the Satavahana Dynasty of Andhra which lasted longer than the Mughals! How many in India know that the Cholas had a blue-water navy that lorded over the east? How many know that Krishnadeva Raya subjugated the Portuguese in Goa but let them live there for trade? Why? This is because there is a whole generation of history teachers who don’t even know LOCAL history (let alone INDIAN history).
    I lay the blame on the fraud secular intellectuals, and the lazy ignoramuses that prescribe the syllabi. Please don’t think of this as a North Vs South debate or Hindu Vs non- Hindu debate. In my mind, Aurangazeb, Shivaji, Krishnadeva Raya and Kulottunga Chola and even Robert Clive are part of MY INDIAN ancestry. Let us study about all of them (warts and all) with no bias!


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